A Writer’s Journey: Part 17
Not So New Ideas

How are you supposed to feel when you find out a totally cool idea – possibly the basis of a scientific theory – is not so new and a genius like Stephen Hawking already came up with it?

I was struck by this story idea one night while working at an apple packing plant (I’m not going to say what it is, because I may still write it one day if I can ever figure out how) but it involves people in parallel dimensions where time runs in opposite directions. I was excited when the concept hit me. Here I was, with not only what I thought was a great story, but possibly a theory that no one else had considered.

Then a few years later I buy the Sliders television series on DVD and realize the show created a season finale around this theory, which Stephen Hawking had already called “Time’s Arrow”.

I felt so completely disappointed.

It isn’t the only time it’s happened.

I wrote a story called, “The Last Concert”, about a band that needs to keep playing a concert to calm a crowd of undead fans hungry for their brains. If you’ve watched Dance of the Dead you already know they had the same idea, apparently at about the same time as I did. I wrote my story for submission to an anthology called, Bits of the Dead, the story was rejected and published a while later. At the time I wrote it, I wasn’t even aware the movie existed. I watched the movie and said, “Hey, that’s my idea!” My wife concurred, as surprised as I was. After researching the movie, I discovered it came out around the same time I wrote the story, the times too close together for a movie to be produced from a stolen idea that hadn’t even been published yet, even if someone had grabbed it from the submissions’ pile.

One of those weird coincidences, I guess.

The thing is, it makes me wonder: is it possible to still have a new, original, unique idea of your own? Or are we doomed because there might be someone else out there who could have the same idea as you within a few years of it blossoming in your mind?

The world keeps changing and as it does new soil is laid for ideas to grow. Or in some cases these ideas will shape the future.

So go forth word gardeners and cultivate. Remember, everyone uses the same flowers. It’s how you arrange them that makes your stories a thing of beauty.


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